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Teen Read Week

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 10/15/2002

Teen Read Week Transcript

My cousin Nettie said she knew her son George might get through school okay, but the way he was doing it was enough to give her sinking spells and liver chills. You see, George would never crack a book, much less read one. George was one of those people who could sit in class, listen to what the teacher said and swallow it in the exact same way the teacher had said it. So, he could give it back on any test, any day. That talent kept him pretty much on the honor roll, and pretty much the envy of all the rest of us. I was sure George was headed for the Guinness Book of World Records for being the smartest boy who’d never read past page three in any book in any language anywhere on the planet. But Cousin Nettie worried, because, well, she was a charter member of the Book Lovers section in a group she belonged to called Women Dedicated to the Preservation of Western Civilization Through Reading. 

Also, Cousin Nettie thought it was a pitiful shame for anybody to get through life without knowing about the simple private pleasure of reading. So, when George was in the ninth grade, she went at him hard. She gave him a book on sailing ships and said, “If you love me, George, you will read this.” 

 

After a month, the book still sat on George’s bedside table with nary a page turned. 

Next, Cousin Nettie gave George a book on fishing and said she’d pay him a dollar for every page he read. The book was three hundred pages long, so you can tell, with this promise, Cousin Nettie was losing hope. Sure enough, that book lay without so much as one fingerprint in it from George. 

It was clear, Cousin Nettie couldn’t get her son George to read for love nor money. But then, when George was a senior in high school, Cousin Nettie found a whole stash of Superman comic books under his bed. He’d been reading them, too, because the pages were frayed and, in the margins, George had even written notes. 

Yes, George admitted, he had indeed been reading those Superman comics, even though he was way too old for that. And he’d even read three other books on human propulsion, because, well, forever and always, he’d had a secret desire to fly. And he’s never heard a teacher or anybody else talk about that. 

I think this story boils down to one single fact. When a kid finds a book where his imagination can fly, he simply is hooked on reading for good.

Posted in Holidays, Stories